¡Hola y besitos de Guatemala! Surprisingly enough, I´m having a difficult time carving out space to write in this blog. I am doing a lot of writing, but don´t necessarily always want to be doing it in front of a computer. That being said, for my mother´s sanity, here I am in all my blog glory. I have now been in here in Quetzaltenango for 2 weeks, the first of which was filled with muchas cosas políticas, but I´ll get to that in another post. We´re here to talk about fun. And I´m having a lot of it. And in breaking news, this past Sunday was the first time someone utter the word “vamos…” and my brain didn´t automatically fill in “a la playa” afterwards! And yesterday I got into my first argument in Spanish with a bank teller who refused to acknowledged that it is impossible to sign your name in the exact same way every time. But anyways…
Un noche mio en Guatemala City
|My first Guatemalan meal!|
Proyecto Lingüístico Quetzalteco (PLQ) and Xela
|Typical street in my neighborhood|
|Mi familia Guatemalteca|
Monday morning, after a brief welcoming introduction, I dove right into classes. The classes run Monday – Friday from 8am – 1pm. Mi maestro is Luis, a man who has worked for over 20 years with campesinos, various NGOs (neoliberal and radical), and political campaigns. He now teaches at PLQ full time. We spend about 75% of our class time just chatting – about everything from the political state of Guatemala, the transnational corporations that stomp their boots all over the people and resources, the education system, Monsanto, religion, and the Mayan culture. When class isn´t in session (or sometimes when it is) we have conferences and guest speakers. In the past week we´ve heard from a professor of history who unpacked the electoral process here, a woman who´s 23 year-old son was kidnapped 25 years ago during the height of the civil war, and Amaro, our intrepid guide, who leads a roundtable each week on ¨Que Pasó en Guatemala?¨ where we discuss the national highlights from the week.
But don´t worry, it´s not all heavy left-wing musings – I´ve been bouncing around a whole freaking lot. Some school-led bounces, some self-elected. Here´s a run down of my favorites so far:
Visiting Potters in Totonicapán
|Carlos at work|
Traveled here with a few fellow students. Learned about the process of turning la tierra into la plum (the earth into a powdered clay substance), and met Carlos, who has worked in the fábrica since his youth. Some of his pieces are currently en route to Orlando and it´s clear as to why.
Las Fuentes Georginas
After an hour long bus ride, and an ascent up a volcano in the back of a pickup truck, we arrived at the hot springs, the water being heated deep within the volcano. There are three pools of varying sulfuric hotness, lo más caliente taking all my teeth-gritting, calm-yourself, you-can-do-this fortitude but in the end I succeeded in submerging my entire body.
|We ascended |
into the mist
via pickup truck
Didn´t take any photos here. I honestly haven´t been taking many photos. I´m enjoying being in each moment and awash in the people and cosas around me, without ostracizing myself further by whipping out my camera every three seconds. My words will have to suffice.
This market only runs three days a week, during the morning, and after that the area is a ghost town. Traversing streets and side streets packed with vendors on all sides one finds fish, meats, intestines, potatoes, miltomates, peppers, spices, herbs, toy cars, clothes, bananas, clothes, papaya, clothes, fabric, blankets, knick-knacks galore, until you reach a central square that is the animal hub. Cows, dogs, pigs, goats, ducks, chickens, roosters, kittens, rabbits, roam on rope and in baskets, available for purchase (I´ve yet to have to pleasure of riding home on a bus with one), among piles of junk that amount to yard sales from the 80s: VCRs, Nintendos, and Slinkies. An overall assault on every sense, but one of the highlights of my week. Many of the clothes sold at this market are produced in homes right in the pueblo, and the fruit sellers make the trek in from the coast three times a week to peddle their goods.
|At right, the machete Amaro used |
to slash through the underbrush,
and hanging in the center,
the sack that would
hold sugar and beans
underground during the conflict.
A quick trip here revealed a 16th century church that was painted to relfect the mixture of the Spanish and Mayan cultures here in Guatemala. My favorite thing here, besides the neon sign inside that flashed Pescador de hombres (Fisher of Men), was a typed sign that, translated reads, ¨You don´t need your cell phone to talk to God. Please shut it off.¨ Brilliance.
|Thorbjørn, me, Signe and Theresa.|